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Monday, April 29, 2013
QB Mahalak attends Ducks' spring game

By Brandon P. Oliver

In the Ducks' 2011 recruiting class, Oregon fans were overjoyed when Florida quarterback Jarrard Randall committed to the Ducks. Few paid attention when two more quarterbacks committed a couple weeks later. Randall didn't qualify and, around a brief stint at LSU, he has bounced around junior college programs.

All that the other two quarterbacks have done is lead their respective programs to a pair of blowout wins in BCS games as redshirt freshman. One of them -- Johnny Manziel -- was the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. The other is well on his way to becoming one of the best in a long line of talented Oregon quarterbacks. As a skinny kid that didn't start until his senior high school season, not many Oregon fans so batted an eyelash when Marcus Mariota committed to the Ducks.

While having a quarterback come in with just one year of experience is not the ideal situation, certain players have enough talent to make it possible.

After a second unofficial visit to Eugene in the past two months, Morgan Mahalak (Kentfield, Calif./Marin Catholic) could become the next talented, but inexperienced quarterback to join the Oregon program.

"It was a great visit. I've already seen everything, but it was great to get up there again," Mahalak said. "I had the chance to sit down and talk to coach Helfrich and talk to the other coaches as well. The game speaks for itself. Nothing has changed and the offense was great all day with Marcus leading the way."

While the offense, the weather, the coaches and the atmosphere surrounding the game were all memorable moments for the Marin Catholic star, the family feel of the program and the family connections to the area have all helped push Oregon to the top of his wish list.

"I have gotten to know the people up there really well. My uncle is friends with coach Helfrich because their kids go to the same school," Mahalak said. "Actually, my aunt teaches his kids at school. Coach Helfrich is a great guy. You wouldn't even know that he was a football coach if you didn't know who he was. He's just really down to earth but he knows how to take control when he has to."

Mahalak also liked the pageantry of the spring game, too.

"Seeing them honor the military the way they do every year at the spring game was really cool, " he said. " My uncle and my grandfather both served in the military, so that was something that really caught my eye. They care about so much more than football, but they are still one of the top five programs in the country."

One of the other coaches that he had a chance to talk to briefly was new offensive coordinator Scott Frost. As the offensive coordinator last year, Helfrich was able to see Mahalak -- who backed up Cal freshman Jared Goff in 2012 -- work out and throw while visiting Goff last year. After catching the eye of Helfrich, a visit to Eugene for the Ducks' camp and a long courtship has led to Mahalak becoming the Ducks' prime target at quarterback.

All that stands between the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Mahalak and a potential commitment is an offer from the school Mahalak has always considered his "dream" school. Before the Ducks think about issuing an offer, Frost needs to see Mahalak throw in person. If he walks away as impressed as Helfrich did, the Ducks could offer Mahalak a scholarship.

"Coach Frost will be down to see me this week and hopefully things go well," Mahalak said. "I have a great relationship with the coaches and we are at the point that we don't just talk about football. Hopefully I can put on a good show for coach Frost and show him that I can be the guy they're looking for."

While there might be similarities between Mahalak and Mariota, the fast-rising Mahalak doesn't like to compare himself to other players.

"I don't want to compare myself to Marcus because he is a great player that has proven himself on the big stage," Mahalak said. "I think they are looking for someone similar to what Marcus does because he is exactly what they want. I guess they think I fit mold of an athletic guy that can throw the ball around and lead the offense."